Scientists Developing Spacecraft Powered by SteamSkill Level 8, Published on: Jan 20, 2019
The history of steam power goes all the way back to the 1700s. At the time, steam was used to power many different machines and helped fuel the Industrial Revolution.
Over the years, steam was replaced by other fuel systems to power everything from homes to cars to industrial equipment.
Now, some American scientists are developing steam power for one of today’s most highly technical activities, space exploration.
The scientists are developing and testing a space robot model named The World Is Not Enough, which they call WINE for short. The spacecraft is designed to travel repeatedly between space rocks called asteroids and planets throughout the solar system.
The spacecraft is designed to land on these space objects. It has tools to search for and collect water that might be below the surface. WINE can then heat the water to create steam to power the spacecraft to its next space stop. WINE is equipped to gather and use solar energy as well.
The company Honeybee Robotics built the model that the researchers recently tested. The UCF team provided a reproduction of asteroid material for the test, as well as computer modeling used to design WINE.
The scientists believe the technology could open up limitless space exploration. Currently, interplanetary space exploration trips must end when the spacecraft runs out of fuel.
Each time we lose our tremendous investment in time and money that we spent building and sending the spacecraft to its target. WINE was designed to never run out of propellant so exploration will be less expensive. It also allows us to explore in a shorter amount of time, since we don’t have to wait for years as a new spacecraft travels from Earth each time.
Kris Zacny is the vice president of Honeybee Robotics. He also described the test as a great success, saying “WINE-like spacecraft have the potential to change how we explore the universe.”
WINE is linked to NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer program that supports university and small business cooperation on space research projects.
Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.
tremendous (adj.) - extremely good
propellant (n.) - fuel that causes something to move
expensive (adj.) - costing a lot of money
allow (v.) - to permit
potential (n.) - an ability that has not yet been developed
Answer these questions about the article.
- What kind of vehicle is being developed?
- How old is steam power technology?
- What is the name of the program?
- What will propell this new spacecraft?
Please give your opinion on the following statement and give your reasons behind it.
- Does this new technology have any sense?
Have a discussion on following questions.
- Do you think this is a step forward?
- How much time will it take to be developed?
- Is US wasting resources on space exploration?
- Would you like to go to space?